Purchasing raw materials

All raw ingredients such as flour, milk, nuts and fruit, and compound ingredients such as processed cereals, chocolate, biscuits or toffee must be purchased against a detailed specification. This must include the nature of the product, the ingredients included in a compound ingredient, and any risks of cross-contamination that may occur in the production or packing of the ingredient that is purchased. Supplier Quality Assurance is a system whereby suppliers are audited to ensure that they meet the high quality standards demanded by food manufacturers; it places the responsibility of meeting the standards set by the manufacturer clearly within the remit of the supplier. The initial audit procedure is a detailed analysis of the supplier and the operations that occur within their facilities. It is essential that it includes a detailed risk assessment relating to the presence of allergens and particularly the use of peanuts and nuts at the supplier's location. The presence of allergens in any raw material needs to be clearly acknowledged, even down to the level of carriers in flavours. Additionally, any real risk of cross-contamination from other materials that may be processed or packed in the same facility must be assessed in detail. HACCP studies can be used to identify any CCPs in the supplier's procedures. Where a real risk of cross-contamination with allergens exists, it must be highlighted on the specification to ensure that information is fed through and eventually highlighted on the label. This is particularly relevant for compound ingredients such as chocolates and cereals. The suggestion that cross-contamination exists must be ascertained following a detailed review and is not a substitute for Good Manufacturing Practice, nor should it be used to discharge any liability should a problem occur.

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